Please Forgive This Old Tourist

by J. Michael Wimpy

Traveling through Ireland this past September, as I was about to check out of my room, I read the following note to Terri who runs the B&B in Annagry, County Donegal.
"Terri, please forgive this old man as I am just a poor, ignorant tourist.  I've rushed into town expecting perfection, turning my nose up at the first cobweb sighted. I arrived in a bit of a tizzy and complained of a cold and dusty room.  I am surely to be pitied. 
It will be difficult to say this well; it may be near impossible for it to be heard.  We are mere strangers who live worlds apart.  Our paths may never cross again.  Of course, these are personal matters.  If I should keep silent, please forgive this old man for I am just a poor, ignorant tourist.
Jeremiah, your assistant, has mentioned the recent death of your son.  I now realize his memory, so strong within your heart, is everywhere in this home.  This home I now know is sacred ground - holy ground for a broken heart.  It contains memories, precious memories of a life not far removed from you.  Those memories I know drift down every hallway and fill every room.
I am a Father; my children are precious to me.  To extend their lives, I would gladly sacrifice mine.  Yes, to love a child is what I know.
Of course, what I do not know and would never pretend to understand is what it is like to lose a child.  To even consider it leaves me speechless.  To imagine it opens a wound that I know would never heal - a void never to be filled.
Terri, I wish you healing.  I wish you comfort.  I wish you well as your journey continues.  I am a mere tourist.  I came to town looking for comfort.  What I found is holy and sacred ground.  Yes, I realize that now.  Thank you for taking a moment from your memories - yes, a horrid distraction indeed - to care for this poor, ignorant tourist."
As I read this note, Terri cried.

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